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Foxit eSlick review

Verdict

A good reading experience is marred by a high price and unnecessary restrictions

Review Date: 10 Dec 2009

Reviewed By: Jonathan Bray

Price when reviewed: £165 (£190 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
2 stars out of 6

Features & Design
2 stars out of 6

Value for Money
2 stars out of 6

Performance
3 stars out of 6

If the iRiver Story resides at the top of the consumer eBook reader tree, the Foxit eSlick sits firmly at the bottom of it. It’s an altogether less luxurious-feeling product – built from insubstantial black plastic and adorned with cheap-feeling buttons.

It’s hardly surprising given the manufacturer’s background. Foxit isn’t a hardware company, but a software developer famous principally for PDF reader and creation software. Rather than design and develop a reader from the ground-up, it has slapped its logo on the front of someone else’s. It’s effectively the same as the Bookeen Cybook Gen3.

And that means all the same specifications: a basic (though still very readable) 6in E Ink screen with four levels of grey (where the iRiver boasts eight and the Kindle 16); a very basic user interface; and plasticky controls that suit right-handed readers – the page-turn and main navigation control are situated in bottom-right corner of the device. There’s 512MB of internal storage, plus a 2GB SD card in the box, and the device will also play MP3 files.

Foxit eSlick Reader

The device’s big problem is file format support. Our review eSlick would read only TXT and PDF files. The latest firmware release adds ePub and eReader file support, but the update process is fiddly and unreliable. A batch of early devices, of which our review sample was one, simply won’t update.

Even if you get the update to work or manage to buy one with the latest firmware already on it, however, file format support is still pretty thin.

To get around this, Foxit wants you to use the bundled premium PDF creation, management and editing software (worth $70), to convert other files to PDF. The reader meanwhile allows you to “reflow” text in awkward PDFs so they fit the screen better.

However, there are problems with this approach. First, the PDF reflowing is hit and miss, with text often ending up ugly and difficult to read. Second, using software to convert files effectively ties you to one PC.

It isn’t all bad: the eSlick is light and pocketable, and its screen is readable. But its problems, and a high price, mean we can’t recommend it.

Author: Jonathan Bray

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User comments

Surely a mistake?

Why on the homepage does it say "can this budget reader....." when it's i) not cheap and ii) rated poorly for its high price?!

By pveater on 11 Dec 2009

No mistake, I think

The title ask a question - Can it?
Which is answered in the review - No, seems it can't

By greemble on 11 Dec 2009

Ridiculously overpriced.

Especially when you can get excellent Sony PRS-300 for £139 from WHSmith. I've tried several ebook readers and so far the biggest disappointment was touch-screen devices (like Sony PRS-600) - contrast it so low that reading in dim light made my eyes hurt :(

By Lomskij on 17 Dec 2009

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